Thursday, July 30, 2009

Balanoculture 2

I just learned that the term balanoculture - acorn eaters - was coined by Dr. David Bainbridge, who is one of the all time cool people in the world. An expert on desert plant restoration I had the privilege of spending a day with David back in the mid 1990's to inspect how some creosote and mesquite plants were doing in some tree tubes my company had designed (answer: very well!).

Now I know I definitely want to become a "balanoculturist" when I grow up!

Interestingly, David concluded that oak uplands in California, whose indiginous balanocultures thrived in great numbers, could support villages of one thousand people. Enough acorns could be harvested in 3 weeks to last 2 or 3 years.

This dovetails with William Bryant Logan's statement that "balanocultures were among the most stable and affluent cultures the human world has ever known." It was only as people moved down into the plains from the oak uplands of Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America and began cultivating grains that we actually had to start working hard for our food!

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